Despite dashing off on holiday, Dan had been his usual efficient self and put up a post on Saturday’s 12 and 6 stage relays. However, it’s such a special event for the club it was thought worth giving a bit more coverage of the event.
Those who made the Birmingham trip experienced a real mixed bag of April weather. There was sunshine accompanied by cold winds and briefly some hail showers. As previously reported our men achieved a highly creditable 14th place. This was several places ahead of Ken Pike’s prediction – one made in the light of several runners some way from full fitness. So, to be not too far off the top ten was certainly a pleasing result. Our B team didn’t quite have a full complement but there were some promising runs from the ten who ran and for the first time in this prestigious event Kent AC women made it into the top ten. A terrific seventh place was the reward for some excellent running.
Noah Armitage Hookes took on the pressurised first leg for the men’s A team. As usual the first leg was packed with quick runners. Noah handled the pressure really well coming in 20th – a few seconds behind Herne Hill’s Lewis Laylee who Noha had many tussells with in their junior days. Our second leg runner, Rob Sesemann, relatively new to the big events, actually gained one place, with a run that equalled our best short leg time of the day. Rob deserves praise for keeping a cool head when one of his laces came undone – something we’ve all had to face. Obviously if you spend time retying the lace you are going to lose time. Rob chose to press on and was rewarded with a good time. Our next long leg runner Jake Simmonds ran under 28 minutes which was a measure of how he’s improved over the last year. As usual Russell Bentley had made the long trip from Wales. Often our lead-off man, Russell had not been feeling at his best so unusually for him ran a short leg. He recorded exactly the same time as Rob had done on leg two.
Owen Hind and Chris Greenwood were among those who had only just got back into serious training but despite being some way off full fitness they wanted to put a shift in for the club. On leg eight, George Russell had a very encouraging run – perhaps an indication of things to come. Unsurprisingly our fastest long leg runner was John Gilbert who’s been in such good form of late. On a particularly good spectating point, from some considerable distance away, John was unmistakeable as he charged determinedly down the long hill before the last kilometre. Given his form over the last few months it wasn’t a surprise to see Chris McGurk run well on the last long leg. It was then left to
Ben Harding to bring the team home. At the sharp end the race proved very exciting. Highgate had held the lead for a substantial part of the race only to be overhauled on the last leg by Tonbridge AC. The winning margin was just 13 seconds. Bedford took third in the race.
Whilst we didn’t have quite the numbers to close a full 12, the B team nevertheless gave a very good account of themselves. It was good to see newcomer Matteo Saulnier run the B team’s fastest short leg. Given that we weren’t going to be able to close a team, our tenth leg runner was a very youthful member. He gave a glimpse of his talent and what we can look forward to in future. Suffice it to say his mum who was running in our women’s team was very proud.
Women’s 6 Stage Road Relay
New to the team, Bryony Proctor got proceedings underway for our women. Just like the men’s the opening leg is always very competitive. Bryony had been aiming for a top ten finish and while she may have just missed out on that goal, her run gave us a really good start. Victoria Buck then ran a solid leg to bring us home in fourteenth. Our third leg runner was the incredibly consistent Clare Elms. She was close to breaking nineteen minutes which is very good going on the short leg, but then of course Clare is a multiple masters record holder. She managed to take two on her run. Katie Rowland next on the long leg kept us in twelfth and handed over to Parris Williams who maintained us in twelfth. Then on the final lap Alexa Parker had a tremendous run and brought the team home in seventh. Her run turned out to be the eleventh fastest long leg of the day. The race was won in commanding fashion by Salford AC. Their first leg runner went out hard and they were never headed. Second were Highgate who had moved through and Basingstoke were third.
Undoubtedly a really positive day for our women. This performance clearly gives confidence for events later in the year.